let My people go

Day 58

Exodus 8

Here we see the next three plagues and we see also Pharaoh’s completely predictable reaction to repeated entreaties to “Let My people go.” The second plague that falls upon Egypt is a plague of frogs; Moses and Aaron work their magic via the power granted them by God, and the land is inundated with frogs.

frog_theme_for_kids

“You mean like the frogs that got f***ed by Joseph Smith?”¹

Pharaoh’s magicians, ever eager to prove that these strange miracles are not of God, summon up some frogs of their own. Pharaoh doesn’t seem to care this time, and is sick of picking frogs out of his fancy hat. He finally asks Moses and Aaron to send them away. If the frogs are removed, Pharaoh says, he will let the Hebrews go and sacrifice to their God.

Moses just asks for a time, and Pharaoh says “tomorrow.” Why he doesn’t say “Right f***ing now, please,” is beyond me. Moses and Aaron call to God and God wipes out all the frogs. The Egyptians pile the mass of dead frogs into rotting heaps. Compared to having frogs everywhere, this was apparently a relief. Although I don’t really know why they didn’t just start eating the frogs since annoying the Lord sometimes grants you an infinite supply of food. Perhaps they were poisonous frogs? Anyway.

Once the frogs are gone, Pharaoh proceeds to once again ignore the commands of Moses and Aaron. No more frogs, not my problem.

So Moses and Aaron send lice. With the power of God, they turn all the dust of the land into lice. This the magicians could not do. At this point even the sorcerers of Egypt are forced to admit that something strange might be going on. “This is the finger of God,” they say to Pharaoh in Exodus 8:19. But still Pharaoh’s heart was hard against these miracles.

Again Moses and Aaron visit Pharaoh, they go through the same old “Let My people go” shtick, and again Pharaoh denies their request. This time the land is swarmed with flies.

diabloitchies

As any Diablo II player can tell you, flies are no laughing matter.²

Finally, Pharaoh calls for Moses and Aaron. I can just picture him swatting flies away from his head as he tells them, “Fine! Just sacrifice already! You can do it right here!”

Moses and Aaron, completely free of flies respond: “No can do, Pharaoh. If we start doing our Jehovah business in Egypt, odds are we’ll get stoned to death. We need to go out of town for a few days first.”

Pharaoh: “Fine, whatever! Just get rid of these damn flies!”

Moses: “Alright, we’ll get rid of the flies. No more tricks, Pharaoh.” I think it’s funny that Moses tells Pharaoh to stop being deceitful when isn’t Moses lying about the whole worship/sacrifice thing? I thought this whole thing was a ruse to get the Hebrews out of Egypt (Exodus 3). I guess the point would be that God does work all things for good.

Moses heads out, asks God to take the flies away, and He does. Pharaoh, being relieved of his misery, once again hardens his heart and goes back on his word. The Hebrews will not be allowed to leave.


I think the most interesting lessons to be learned here come from Pharaoh’s actions. As Pharaoh hardens his heart against these “supernatural” miracles, so to do we harden our hearts against the miracles of the world… the miracle of a rising sun or a beautiful sunset, the miracle of rain falling from the sky and nourishing the land, the miracle of life and growth all around us, and the miracle of the human experience, that we are conscious, that we can create and act in this amazing world, that we exist at all! All of these things seem so normal to us that we hardly perceive them as miracles.

Also, the way Pharaoh constantly changes his attitude after the plague has lifted reminds me of a joke:

A guy is headed downtown and is late for a job interview. He is desperate to find a parking place, and so he rolls down his window and shouts to God, “If you find me a parking place, I promise I’ll never touch another drop of liquor.”
Just then, a car pulls out, leaving a parking place right in front of his building.
He leans out and shouts to God, “Never mind, I found one myself.”

So often we call to God in our hour of need, and forget Him afterward. We make promises and fail to uphold them. For all those who would condemn Pharaoh (myself included) do not forget that every one of us is equally imperfect. We have all made mistakes, we have all made promises that we have not kept.

The beauty of God is that He is always present. C.S. Lewis wrote something that struck me as profound:

If He who in Himself can lack nothing chooses to need us, it is because we need to be needed.

We are still in so many ways like children, children who need attention, love, compassion, and affirmation. God does not have to be there for us, and if He were as we are, many times He would not be there for us. We cannot always be present for our friends or our children. But God can be called upon always. It seems to me that God wants to be called upon always, for us to be fully conscious and accepting of Him throughout all the days of our lives.

More so than that, since I cannot claim to speak for the will of God, it seems to me that our very souls cry out to God, that our souls, our very being wants us to call upon Him, to open ourselves up to God, His grace and His forgiveness. But then, in a sense, our not our souls crying out for their own true essence?

“The boy reached through to the Soul of the World, and saw that it was part of the Soul of God. And he saw that the Soul of God was his own soul. And that he, a boy, could perform miracles.”

— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


¹ The Book of Mormon (musical). 2011 Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone.

² Diablo II. 2000 Blizzard Entertainment. Image retrieved from http://diablo.incgamers.com/forums/showthread.php?786178-Scavenger-Hunt-4-Tournament-Grail/page11

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Day 57

Exodus 7

Now we get into the beginning of the plagues.

Moses and Aaron, 80 and 83 years old, respectively, confront Pharaoh about all this Hebrew-enslavement nonsense. Pharaoh, of course, has no reason to listen to them or to believe any of this voodoo. He tells them, as God knew he would, to show him a miracle. So Moses gives his brother the signal, and Aaron’s rod turns into a serpent. Yeah, don’t read too much into that.

Pharaoh sees this serpent and doesn’t think much of it, so he calls his magicians and sorcerers to do the same trick, proving that this is not a divine miracle. Holy crap, if the Bible is to be taken literally, then sorcery is definitely a thing. Who knew? Well, I knew… but true magic is worked through God. I’ll get into that some other time.

So yeah, the sorcerers get their rods out, and Aaron’s serpent and their serpents fight… and… all this talk of “rods” and “serpents.” God, why do you have to make it weird? Somewhere, the Almighty is giggling. Anyway, Aaron’s serpent-rod eats those of the sorcerers. Pharaoh is not amused and declines to let the Hebrews leave.

Moses and Aaron talk with God, or rather God talks to them, and they head back to see Pharaoh the next day, presumably, when he goes out to get water. Why the Pharaoh is getting his own water is beyond me. But Moses and Aaron are waiting for him by the riverbank. “Let My people go!” sayeth Moses in the name of the Lord. Predictably, Pharaoh refuses. Aaron proceeds to turn all of Egypt into a death metal album cover, and the river and all the water in Egypt is turned to blood.

river of blood

Easiest Google search ever.¹

Apparently, just to prove that this strange occurrence was not divine either, the magicians gather up some of what must be the last remaining water in Egypt and turn it into blood with their sorcery. Pharaoh completely disregards Moses and Aaron and holds out for at least seven days, since B-Day +7 is where Exodus 7 leaves off.

There is one interesting thing I got out of Matthew Henry’s commentary: He says

“See what changes we may meet with in the things of this world; what is always vain, may soon become vexatious. See what mischievous work sin makes. If the things that have been our comforts prove our crosses, we must thank ourselves. It is sin that turns our waters into blood.”²

This reminds me of something that was shared with me by my partner. She shared an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain,” an awesome book that discusses why humans suffer and examines human suffering from a Christian standpoint. My partner just bought it for me, actually, and I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading the whole thing for myself.

But the passage I am reminded of which is appropriate as God is just laying waste to Egypt by proxy goes something like this:

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Lewis says that pain drives us to action, as opposed to our comforting “sins and stupidities.” This to me rings true. The problem to me is that people can get so accustomed to pain that they ignore it or accept it as inevitable when in reality it is not. Our pain reminds us that something needs to change. Physical, mental, and spiritual pain all serve a purpose. When our waters turn to blood, we have to soften our hearts and become humble. We have to admit that something is wrong. Only then, in the name of God, can we create change.

(Almost there…)


¹ http://www.metal-archives.com/albums/Chainsaw_Dissection/River_of_Blood_and_Viscera/139596

² Henry, Matthew. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=2&c=7